Thursday, September 27, 2018

Prince Rupert's Presbyterian Church among those on the "Watch List" for Heritage BC

Prince Rupert's Presbyterian Church on Fourth Street East
has been placed on Heritage BC's Watch List

The provincial organization that is dedicated towards protecting British Columbia's heritage has compiled a list of properties across the province that it considers at risk and of significant historic and cultural value to the fabric of the province, with the North Coast finding itself part of their focus for the fall of 2018.

As part of an ongoing project, Heritage BC has compiled what it is calling its "Watch List" which identifies sites that are currently affected by threat of inappropriate alterations, neglect or demolition and among the entries for 2018 is a landmark building in Prince Rupert, the Presbyterian Church on Fourth Avenue East.

As we outlined on the blog earlier this year, the Church brought 93 years of service to the Prince Rupert area in May, that after declines in the numbers of the congregation made it impossible to keep the doors open.

The decommissioning service of May 29th, the final celebration for the building in the community.

Shortly after the doors were closed, the For Sale sign went up, with the building listed as part of the local real estate listings, the property listing still an active one, with an asking price of $540,000.

The potential for sale and potential alteration, something which has clearly caught the attention of Heritage BC.

The background story to the building and the issues that it raises for Heritage BC can be reviewed below:

The Heritage BC entry on Prince Rupert's
Presbyterian Church

(click to enlarge)

As part of their overview of the Presbyterian Church selection for inclusion on the Watch List, Heritage BC notes that the City of Prince Rupert did pass a bylaw in 1991 that designated the church as a heritage site, but also calls attention to some recent changes in the city when it comes to watching over those heritage sites such as the historic Church overlooking the downtown area.

In their documentation, Heritage BC also observes that  the City does not currently have a commission, committee or bylaws in place that could guide possible heritage altering renovations proposed by a new owner.

The City's Heritage Committee which consisted of Chair Rhoda Witherly, along with Judy Warren, Heather McLean, Alison Brunnelle and David Archer stepped down from its duties back in February of 2015, though not without a few parting notes for Council to consider.

At the time, Committee Chair Rhoda Witherly,  offered up three key recommendations for the current City Council to consider when it comes to heritage in the community.

Review and update the City Heritage inventory document (a project which could require at least 8 to 10 thousand dollars in funding)

Establish a Heritage Commission pursuant to Part 27 of the Local Government Act.

Encourage the formation of a Society specifically charged with maintenance and preservation of Pillsbury House.

At the 2015 Council session where the Heritage Committee stepped down, Mayor Brain and council noted that they would be developing plans towards forming a new Heritage commission, three years later however, there does not seem to have been much momentum towards that goal so far.

The concerns for preserving the heritage of the city, perhaps a bit lost in the shuffle with Council's ongoing focus on the future, though there have been a few glimmers of hope for attention towards some of our history. That as the city works through the growing list of planning projects and workshops on future development that have been delivered over the last few years.

The lack of oversight on heritage issues in Prince Rupert at the moment is probably a worrisome trend for Heritage BC, which may give them some interest in reviewing more of the city's buildings for future reference and potential addition to the Watch List in the months ahead.

As part of the focus of their work on issues of provincial heritage, Heritage BC notes that nominations for the Watch List can be made throughout the year, with a submission form available here.

One site that they may wish to flag for future interest is the old VIA/CNR Rail station on the waterfront, a building that has been of note for the city over the years, but continues to sit abandoned with little in the way of attention or progress found as of yet.

June 2018 -- Plans for waterfront eyesore on mind of Councillor Cunningham
February 2017 -- City to hear of grant opportunity related to former VIA/CNR Rail station at Rotary Waterfront Park
February 2017 -- Waterfront landmark looks for a little TLC and a new chance to serve

You can review the full Heritage BC Watch List for 2018 here.

More items of interest on community issues can be found on our archive page here.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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